Loves Linux - Runs Windows
European governments have long complained about their dependence on Microsoft’s software, but their rhetoric has not turned into a mass migration away from Windows.
During the past few years, Europe’s elected officials have made a lot of noise about ambitious projects to switch to open source software, including big migrations of government PCs in France, Germany, Spain and Norway.
These plans are often heralded as major inroads against Microsoft’s Windows hegemony in the old country — where Microsoft has been fined close to $1 billion in antitrust violations by the European Commission.
Yet the actual migrations have been negligible. More than 95 percent of all PCs used by European government workers still run on Windows, according to the market research firm IDC.
“No one has come out and said ‘we are migrating every desktop or laptop on Linux,’” said IDC analyst Massimiliano Claps.
In Norway, a project known as eNorway 2009 was begun in 2005 to convert Norway’s public sector to open source software.
The goal was for all government institutions to begin replacing Windows with non-proprietary, open source software by the end of this year, but the project has stalled, with few if any Linux PC installations, according to Geir N?klebye, an IT consultant and open source activist.
Even the most ambitious open source initiative in Europe to date — a massive project begun several years ago by the local government in the Extremadura region of Spain — has seen only mixed success.
The project has managed to convert more than 75,000 PCs to run on Linux, but the migration has not been total. Even some of the computers in the project’s administrative office still run Windows, one anonymous employee told Wired News.
The Extremadura government has saved 30 million euro in licensing fees by adopting gnuLinEx for an investment of 125,000 euro, according to local officials.
“Extremadura’s project is the biggest and the most ambitious in Europe because of the political clout behind it,” said Luis Mill?n Vazquez de Miguel, regional minister of infrastructures and technological development for Junta Extremadura, in an e-mail.
Despite the massive shift, compatibility issues necessitate the use of Windows PCs for some applications, such as for CAD drawing or for graphics design programs, said project employees contacted by Wired News.
It’s the same story across Europe. Switching to open source can cause compatibility issues with Microsoft’s file formats, which are proprietary — and still used by the vast majority of other computer users. There can be conflicts with MS Exchange servers, commonly used for e-mail and calendaring. And there’s the problem of educating government IT departments about the ways of Linux.
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